Classes add pressure for student-athletes

With the semester coming to a close and final exams right around the corner, Butler’s winter athletic teams are just reaching the peak of their seasons.

Many Butler student-athletes have the difficult task of studying for their exams as well as attending their practices and preparing for contests.

The women’s basketball team plays at home against Indiana University on Dec. 9, the day before finals begin. The team then plays at Northern Kentucky on Dec. 16, the day after finals end.

Sophomore women’s basketball player Haley Howard, a marketing and strategic communications major, said with two games so close to finals, separating your mind from athletics is important.

“When you’re studying, all you can think about is school, (and) when you’re playing, all you can think about is the game,” Howard said. “(You’ve) got to take small steps at a time and look at what is happening at that moment and not what all there is left to do, or it would definitely overwhelm you.”

Junior women’s basketball player Mandy McDivitt, a physical and health education major, said despite the busy schedule, the team will prepare for the games the same as usual. McDivitt said there are a few changes in how much the team practices during finals week though.

“Usually, our coach schedules practice around finals, and we will practice at different times,” McDivitt said. “They also usually aren’t super long.”

“We have Monday and Tuesday off, but that is it,” Howard said. “No changes in duration of practice or difficulty.”

Per NCAA rules, athletic teams are required to give one day off per week.

The men’s basketball team also has two games that straddle finals week. The team plays at Northwestern on Dec. 8. The Bulldogs then play No. 1 Indiana University in the Crossroads Classic on Dec. 15, the last day of final exams.

Sophomore Alex Barlow, a finance major, said preparing for the Indiana game will be tough.

“We had the same thing last year against Purdue,” Barlow said. “It’s different. It’s something you got to adjust to, but it’s something every college team has to adjust to, so it’s not just us.”

Barlow said the team practices less as the week goes on, and the practices will be individual with the players’ specific coach rather than as a team.

“If you have to miss part of a practice due to a final, it’s not the end of the world,” Barlow said. “But (coaches) really want us to focus on our finals and finish up the semester well.”

Sonya Hopkins, coordinator for academic support, helps student-athletes with tutoring, counseling, time management skills, study skills and study habits. Hopkins also helps  communicate with professors when athletes have to miss an exam for a game or meet.

“It all can become overwhelming if you’re not careful with regards to how you manage yourself,” Hopkins said. “A lot of my time is spent with regards to the time-management facet of their lives.”

“I just think time management (is the hardest part),” Barlow said. “You have a lot of free time because you don’t have classes, but then, it’s like balancing what to do with the free time and study.”

Hopkins said a required workshop is held in the fall for all incoming athletes. One of the programs in the workshop addresses stress management.

Hopkins said all freshman athletes are also required to attend study tables for a minimum of six hours per week.

Despite the busy schedule, McDivitt and Howard do not think they will make any changes to how they will prepare for final exams and upcoming games.

Barlow, however, said he hopes to change when he starts to study.

“I’ll try to start studying little by little rather than trying to study a lot one or two days before,” Barlow said. “I just feel like it’s easier, helps me retain the information, and it will be easier to manage my time by studying a little bit for each subject here and there.”

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